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Delegates gather for AMO conference in Ottawa

More than 1,400 municipal officials from across Ontario gathered in Ottawa this week for the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference.

Speaker sessions included Ontario College of Trades CEO and Registrar David Tsubouchi, talking about the importance of using properly trained and certified tradespeople, promoting skilled trades as a career of first choice, and setting requirements for the use of apprentices in municipal procurement projects.

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Provincial Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro addresses AMO conference delegates together with other members of Cabinet

The Joint Electrical Promotion Plan (JEPP) had a booth in the exhibit hall to promote the value of hiring properly trained, certified, and experienced electrical contractors with the message that the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best bid. Cost overruns and poor workmanship often cost municipalities more in the long run when work has to be redone.

Most of the Provincial Government Cabinet Ministers attended for a Ministers’ Forum to answer questions from delegates. Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro led the discussion with a speech to delegates about how the government is addressing concerns brought to it by AMO.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, PC Leader Patrick Brown, and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also attended and spoke at the conference.

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From left: John Bourke, Peter Olders, Jeff Koller, and Sherri Haigh staffing the JEPP exhibitor booth

 PC Leader Patrick Brown and Jeff Koller


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What municipalities and school boards should look for in bids for new construction projects

When you’re looking at submitted bids from general contractors, the temptation is to automatically go for the lowest price. After all, your tax-payers trust you to use their money wisely.

General contractors collect bids from a variety of trade contractors to perform work in everything from masonry to electrical, plumbing and formwork. The prices for the various sub-trade aspects of the project all form parts of the general contractor’s costs. The natural bias is to keep costs as low as possible in order to win the bid.

But the lowest price does not always mean the best value. As many organizations have learned, the lowest price can come with delays, cost overruns, and even safety issues.

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Province planning major upgrade of GO Transit stations

The provincial government is planning to upgrade more than 40 GO Transit stations across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area as it moves forward with a program to dramatically increase service on the region’s rail network. Construction is expected to begin at some stations next year.

The upgrades will support the provincial Liberals’ $13.5-billion regional express rail plan, which will electrify service on GO rail lines and quadruple the number of weekly train trips from 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2025.

Forty-three stations in nine municipalities, including 10 in Toronto, are scheduled to get upgrades that include enhancements to platform edges, digital signage that will display service information, new fare devices, modifications to improve station access, and elevator improvements.

Secure bicycle parking facilities and electric vehicle charging stations are also part of the plans.

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Q&A: Better Quality Control Through Mobile Tech

Smartphones, tablets, and cloud-based software are becoming standard in the construction field. And while these mobile technologies are beneficial at all stages of a project, they are particularly vital to ensuring the quality of the final product.

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Nova Scotia Power developing province-wide electric vehicle charging network

Nova Scotians will soon be able to drive electric vehicles from Sydney to Yarmouth without having to worry about where they can charge their batteries.

Nova Scotia Power announced today it will install 12 electric vehicle fast charging stations across the province, as part of a pilot project to study the impact and usage of the network on the electrical system. The network will be ready for use in spring of 2018.

This new network will make it easier and more convenient for electric vehicle owners to drive with ease between Yarmouth and Sydney without worrying about running out of a battery charge. The average charge time for these types of chargers is 15 to 30 minutes, whereas most public chargers in Nova Scotia take 3-8 hours, and a regular outlet at your home can take 12 hours or more.

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Another Bundle of OPP Stations
The Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA)

Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services have bundled the construction of nine new OPP stations into a single project.  The OPP stations will be built in Clinton, Mississauga, Hawkesbury, Little Current, Marathon, Parry Sound, Fort Frances, Moosonee and Orillia on a design, build and finance basis.

Three teams that prequalified for this project, Bird Capital Limited Partnership. DBF Pomerleau and EllisDon Infrastructure Justice, are in the process of responding to the RFP and preparing their proposals.  IO and MCSCS are expected to announce the successful team in mid-2018.


Study Concludes Ontario's Timeline to Reduce Debt Unrealistic
The Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA)

Most of us are aware that our Ontario government has just about maxed out its credit card.  It's often been stated that Ontario is the most highly indebted sub-sovereign jurisdiction in the world.  In its 2017 Budget, our provincial government committed to returning to prerecession debt levels - generally understood to be in the neighbourhood of 26% - 27% debt to GDP - by 2029/2030.

The Fraser Institute recently released a paper titled "Wishful Thinking: An Analysis of Ontario's Timeline for Shrinking Its Debt Burden" which finds that Queen's Park's timeline for reducing the province's historically high debt burden relies on optimistic and questionable assumptions and lacks a detailed, credible plan to achieve it. Visit the Fraser Institute website for the full study. 


Cannabis Secretariat Conducts Consultation
The Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA)

In April 2017 the government of Canada introduced legislation which if passed will legalize the use of cannabis.  Under this legislation, each province is required to develop a framework to regulate the distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis.

On July 12 the Ontario Legalization of Cannabis Secretariat in the Ministry of the Attorney General launched a public consultation seeking feedback on the following issues:  a) setting a minimum age for having, using and buying cannabis; b) deciding where people can use cannabis; c) keeping our roads safe; d) regulating cannabis sales; and e) planning public education.

Then on August 10 the Secretariat convened a stakeholder roundtable at which the following matters were addressed:  a) retail and distribution; b) impaired driving; c) minimum age; d) possession; e) places of use; f) home cultivation; g) public education; h) youth and young adult prevention, and harm reduction; i) workplace safety; j) responsible economic development.

Needless to say, COCA was pleased to participate in this consultation and to provide advice particularly in the area of workplace health and safety.


ECAO open house and AGM Sept. 20-21

Please join us for our open house on Wednesday September 20 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at our office located at 10 Carlson Court, Suite 702.

Appetizers and drinks will be served. All ECAO members, associate members and industry partners are invited to our open house. Please RSVP to ecao@ecao.org

All ECAO members are invited to join us for our Annual General Meeting the following morning, Sept. 21, at the Westin Toronto Airport Hotel, located at 950 Dixon Rd., starting at 9 am. Please contact the ECAO office if you’d like overnight accommodation for the evening of Sept. 20.


The Boss Man – Nic Bittle – to Speak at ECAO in September

As part of its 2017 Professional Development Series, ECAO is pleased to welcome Nic Bittle on Sept. 28. He will be presenting A FOREMAN’S FIELD GUIDE TO DEVELOPNG YOUR WORKFORCE – What Smart Leaders are doing to Develop Their Workforce.

Nic Bittle is the founder of Work Force Pro and works with contractors that want to prepare and develop their workforce to lead with impact, act like a pro, and perform at their best on a daily basis. Nic is author of three books, Small Business, BIG Mistakes, Perform Like the Boss! & Good Foreman; Bad Foreman.

Cost for each seminar is $525 tax included. Seminars run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided.  Space is limited so register today. Please visit ECAO website for more information or to register.


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